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A Wild Life

14 Oct

My niece Rachel was about 18 months old when the May 1979 National Geographic featured Jane Goodall’s article “Life and Death at Gombe“. Rachel would grab me by the hand, lead me into the living room and pick up that magazine so we could look at the pictures of the chimps. We didn’t call them chimps; to her they were monkeys. As we read it I loved asking her “What does a monkey say?” and she would scrunch up her little face, hunch her shoulders and say “OO-OO-OO.”

This was long before Jane Goodall became the world-famous messenger of peace. At this point she was simply jane Goodall, primatologist.

So, when I was ALA and saw that Anita Silvey would be signing free copies of her biography of Goodall, I waited in line for my turn. The book, Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, was certainly worth the wait.


First, it is full of pictures like the ones my niece loved, but also those of Jane’s childhood and her life beyond Gombe. The text is written in a highly engaging and informative style that young naturalists will enjoy.  Ample sidebars provide information about people and books that influenced Goodall, significant animals in her life, the people she has influenced and the organizations she is involved with. Unexpected, but interesting tips for kids who want a career with animals and  new technology for scientists in the field, help connect Goodall’s work directly to readers’ lives. Back matter includes a timeline, chimp facts, a Gombe family scrapbook, a bibliography and index.

This is an excellent book for research, or for those wanting just to browse through its stunning photos.

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